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Experts: You have options if Coronavirus costs you your job


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TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- If cautionary measures for Coronavirus mean you've been laid off or might be soon, you're not alone.

Local employment experts say the newly unemployed still have options.

Dustyn Morgan was a waiter and bartender for Lulu's Craft Bar and Grill for more than a year, but Monday he says he and dozens of co-workers were officially laid off.

"The owners did a great job telling us what was going on, what was coming," Morgan says. "Everyone is kind of freaking out together and we're all going to get through this together."

He says he has advice for other people going through this: he recommends signing up for unemployment benefits very first.

On Tuesday, employment specialists at Worksource Columbia Basin in Kennewick found out they, too, were closing up shop. But operations manager Crystal Bright says all is not lost.

"Our doors may be closed to the public but we're still available through phone and email," she says.

Bright says information about layoffs, job-searches, and even resume critiques are all online.

"We recognize that you may not be ready for that until you know your family is taken care of," she says. "So, there are community services out there."

Services helping folks that are finding themselves somewhere they never planned.

Morgan says the way Lulu's let their staff go was done carefully, in a way that allows for him to collect unemployment until things get back to normal.

"It's a bit more than just peace of mind," he explains. "I have two small children, I'm married, my wife is working as much as she can but that's over half of our income gone."

Morgan says it only took half an hour to complete the online application for unemployment benefits; something he says won't take others quite so long to do.

He says the sooner you get signed up the better.

"Get on it ," Morgan encourages. "This 'two weeks' is just a number thrown out there, it could change. Hopefully everybody is back to work on April First."

But just in case, he says it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Bright says the Worksource website will soon have virtual workshops and other services to make up for their doors being closed.

She says folks without internet service or a computer at home can head to Columbia Basin College; for now their library is staying open.

"There are community services out there including the Benton-Franklin Redbook that goes through different resources depending on your needs," Bright says. "Also, remember that 2-1-1 is available as always."

She says folks don't need to worry about being left to fend for themselves, even if they can't drop by in person.

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"We're still strong," she says. "We're still in your corner and you're not alone."


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